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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My puppy is about 5 and a half months old. He is around 21 Kgs / 45 lbs. He is a good boy.

His routine is:

515am Wake up, wait for me to put shoes / jacket etc on.
530am Go for Walk 1
630am Return home. 30 minutes of playing Find it (I hide pieces of kibble around the house) alternating with Chase (While hiding the food, I toss some pieces far away so he runs towards it and doesn't see where I am hiding things).
7 am breakfast
7am - 1130am Sleep. I work from home, so he usually naps outside the door of the room I use as a home office. Unless there is some audible disturbance outside he sleeps willingly. If he happens to get up at about 1030am, then he sometimes plays with himself and I might join him. His play is either chewing some authorised item or pretending to play kill some toy by shaking it from side to side / throwing it.
1130 am Go for Walk 2
1230 pm return home, and play Find it / Chase 2 for 30 minutes
1pm Lunch
1pm - 330pm nap time.
330pm - 430pm Walk 3
430pm Return home and play Find it / Chase 3 for 30 minutes
5pm - Play other games like Chase (I chase after him while he runs around with some toy), or Fetch (Tossing a ball down a long corridor, while he retrieves), Tug of War (rope toy), Flirt pole / Prey drive (I tied a toy to the end of a long rope, which tries to leap on. When he grabs it he shakes it from side to side. So play is largely simulating the Hunt.)
530pm - 630pm - Partially unsupervised time while I do some cleaning up or supervision of workers. During this time I might give him a Kong, Frozen Carrot or Microwaved Yak Chew to chew on. Its hit or miss how occupied he is during this time. Sometimes I sporadically play with him as well during this time.
630 pm - Either play with him, or if he is tired he takes a nap. Play is like 5pm play time.
7pm - Dinner time.

Shortly after dinner he either goes to sleep or settles with a Yak chew to chew on. I do not encourage play time since he has just eaten, and also I try to keep this time for me so I can read up books on training / dogs etc.

830 / 9pm I go to sleep around this time as well. He sleeps right next to me. He mostly sleeps through the night. Once or Twice he may get up to bark for 10-20 seconds at persons walking around outside in the elevator lobby (I live in a high rise).

Note:
Walks: We walk a slightly different route each time for each of the three walks, but its the same area every day. We don't walk far in terms of distance, but it takes an hour mainly because he leads the way and follows trails he sniffs out. I only change route if he is headed somewhere he shouldn't / if I need to protect him from something, but basically he has autonomy over the route. I try to meet / introduce him to as many dogs as I can, but many of the dogs where I live are either aloof (they may tolerate him, but not interact with him), or are not well socialised (they may snarl / bare teeth / behave aggressively , so I don't let him go close). So in a day the maximum number of dogs we may pass are maybe 5-7. An on average I would say he plays with 0-1 dogs per day, and barely for a few minutes as the walker walking the other dog needs to return him.

Play dates: At present he does not have any regular play dates, for the reasons mentioned above.

Dog parks: I do not take him there yet as I feel he is too young, and some much larger uncontrolled dog at a dog park could have a long lasting negative impression on him at this early stage that I would prefer to avoid.

Drives: Whenever I am going somewhere I take him with me in the car. He may not get to step out (maybe its just filling gas in the car), but he gets to join. There aren't many places I can take him. I took him to a large public park once, but its very far away (longer than he is comfortable in the car), and a large number of stray dogs there. Not sure how great idea it is to continue taking him there. Not many empty open spaces to take him.

Offleash: The books I am reading say he won't be mentally mature for a while and advise against taking him off leash anywhere until he is at least 2 years old

Here is where I require help:

    • Is there a way to occupy one more hour of his time by himself?

  • I've read multiple places encouraging him to become a chewaholic by providing lots of chew toys, Frozen Kong etc, but he has a fixed amount of food everyday, so there is only so much food I can provide in a kong before it reduces the quantity of food in his regular meals. At present he eats 136gms of Hill's Science Diet for Large Puppies (Lamb flavour). I also worry about the effect of chewing too much on his teeth
  • I live outside the US, so there is no AKC, Schutzhund or Obedience schools (none that are reputable) near by.
  • I do not have access to open space where I can set up agility stuff -> He is too young anyway.
  • I live alone, so there is no one else to play with him here.
  • While I would like him to have more play dates with other dogs, I am very careful at present, as I would like to have only positive experiences till he is at least 1 year old and will need to be there to monitor him anyway.
  • He finished puzzles very fast, so they don't occupy much of his time.
  • I am looking for one of those balls which food falls out of, but at this time have not found any with good reviews online that I can purchase

- Is there anything else I should add to his routine that I am currently missing ? I am currently reading a book on enrichment, but it may take a while to get to the practical section. I am sure this book will have good ideas, but till then, thought it may be quicker to just ask on a forum

Any suggestions ?
 

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Seems to me you are doing an amazing job with him.

I have found that most GSDs would rather be with their humans than playing with other dogs. And I don't like dog parks. All kinds of germs/disease can be picked up there. And dogs that go to a park every day start seeing it as their "territory" and get protective of it so fights can happen. Just my humble opinion.
 

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Seems to me you are doing an amazing job with him.

I have found that most GSDs would rather be with their humans than playing with other dogs. And I don't like dog parks. All kinds of germs/disease can be picked up there. And dogs that go to a park every day start seeing it as their "territory" and get protective of it so fights can happen. Just my humble opinion.
For some of our dogs it is best that they don't get the idea that there will be play time with other dogs. You don't want to get dragged across the street because they see a potential playmate. Other dogs on walks should be seen as any other stranger in the crowd. Of course, play dates with known friends and family and their dogs is a different matter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Seems to me you are doing an amazing job with him.

I have found that most GSDs would rather be with their humans than playing with other dogs. And I don't like dog parks. All kinds of germs/disease can be picked up there. And dogs that go to a park every day start seeing it as their "territory" and get protective of it so fights can happen. Just my humble opinion.
Thank you. My puppy is very smart, so any limit to what he becomes is because of some deficiency of mine, so I would really like to make sure I do all I can do he can be all he can be. But most importantly happy, healthy and fulfilled.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
For some of our dogs it is best that they don't get the idea that there will be play time with other dogs. You don't want to get dragged across the street because they see a potential playmate. Other dogs on walks should be seen as any other stranger in the crowd. Of course, play dates with known friends and family and their dogs is a different matter.
At present my puppy wants to meet most dogs. I’m slowly training him to ignore them, but it’s heavily dependent on me distracting him with treats right now.
 

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I don't see any training in there or any real exercise. Both will help satisfy his needs.

You decided to get a breed with high physical and mental demands not suited for apartment life in a big city. Now you have to figure out how to make that work.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I don't see any training in there or any real exercise. Both will help satisfy his needs.

You decided to get a breed with high physical and mental demands not suited for apartment life in a big city. Now you have to figure out how to make that work.
Thanks, forgot to mention that there is some time blocked for training specific commands. Rest of the day I train him based on the relevance to the situation we face.
Can you please elaborate about exercise? He seems tired after the physical activities we have and goes to sleep voluntarily after play. I don’t think he would be able to do much more. Also since he is less than a year old I read that to avoid several kinds of activities like sustained running, jumping etc, so in general all the activities we have I let him drive the intensity. So chase, fetch, flirt pole etc we stop when he is wants…
I’m sorry, but don’t understand what you mean about the apartment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I would recommend turning your play sessions into structured games so you can use them for obedience training later on. I highly recommend Ivan Balabanov's "Chase and Catch 2.0" and "Possession Games" videos.
Thank you so much! 👍That’s a good idea. I didn’t think of that. At present our play is unstructured except for the time. Let me try that.
 

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It sounds like you also schedule yourself very carefully. If it works for you, great. I could not keep to a schedule like that and like my dogs to be spontaneous.

Offleash: The books I am reading say he won't be mentally mature for a while and advise against taking him off leash anywhere until he is at least 2 years old.


We don’t use age to determine when a dog can be off leash but recall and attentiveness to you. Many here start their puppies out off leash, then add a leash later or for specific situations. If your dog gets to age 2 without ever being off leash and doesn’t have a proofed recall, I wouldn’t do it without knowing he would come back. You can prepare for off leash with a long line that you treat as if it’s not there. Keep the end in your hand just in case he takes off, so he’s forced to come back when he reaches the end of the leash. While the lead is loose, practice recalls. I would use food every time at first, then gradually fade the lure. If he’s not food motivated then use a toy he loves that you only use for training.
 

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Jazmine Auf Der Marquis, Reacher Auf Der Marquis
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You want exercise / play time to cause the tongue hang out far. Often seen describe here as tongue hanging low.

For inside mental stimulation your already part way to nose work with find it so I'd suggest researching that and maybe getting a starter kit for true nose work.

Tongue hanging low pic

Sky Dog Carnivore German shepherd dog Dog breed
 

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I’m sorry, but don’t understand what you mean about the apartment.
Elevator lobby and highrise.

830 / 9pm I go to sleep around this time as well. He sleeps right next to me. He mostly sleeps through the night. Once or Twice he may get up to bark for 10-20 seconds at persons walking around outside in the elevator lobby (I live in a high rise).
 

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Fraserglens Ellie of Carmspack 16/12/2021
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I’m not an expert so I hope someone corrects me here but if a 5 month old is walking 3 hours a day.. that’s quite repetitive and probably not ideal for the joints and development? Also you should read up about socializing puppies on here.. your doing most of the correct things on your walks.. just not the try and say hi to every dog part.. no need for that, try and keep his attention on you when other dogs are around, it’ll be worth it with your end goal of off leash play.. lastly your day does seem very regimented right now, which fine if it works for you and your pup that’s great.. but if that routine every has to change for whatever reason.. you’ll have a tough adjustment period, I don’t think it would hurt to switch things up couple days a week.
 

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Thanks, forgot to mention that there is some time blocked for training specific commands. Rest of the day I train him based on the relevance to the situation we face.
Can you please elaborate about exercise? He seems tired after the physical activities we have and goes to sleep voluntarily after play. I don’t think he would be able to do much more. Also since he is less than a year old I read that to avoid several kinds of activities like sustained running, jumping etc, so in general all the activities we have I let him drive the intensity. So chase, fetch, flirt pole etc we stop when he is wants…
I’m sorry, but don’t understand what you mean about the apartment.
I live in a 41' camper with my dogs. It's not about the size of the home. It's about what goes along with typical apartment living that make things a challenge.

The GSD is a working breed that needs physically and mental challenges to thrive. A dog designed to work needs to "work" in my opinion. Plodding along on a walk isn't challenging at all and isn't satisfying for the dog.

Flirt pole and such are great, and we only have a tiny snapshot of what life is like for your dog. I would rather see a dog run hard and work for rewards for 10 minutes than have them walk for 3 miles. At 5 months we were hiking 5 miles, off leash, while still having several other exercise/training sessions through the day. I would recommend that you avoid forced running, but other than that, your pup is tough and needs physical challenges to grow up strong.

Here's Valor at 5 months. This is a normal day for us.

 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
It sounds like you also schedule yourself very carefully. If it works for you, great. I could not keep to a schedule like that and like my dogs to be spontaneous.

Offleash: The books I am reading say he won't be mentally mature for a while and advise against taking him off leash anywhere until he is at least 2 years old.

We don’t use age to determine when a dog can be off leash but recall and attentiveness to you. Many here start their puppies out off leash, then add a leash later or for specific situations. If your dog gets to age 2 without ever being off leash and doesn’t have a proofed recall, I wouldn’t do it without knowing he would come back. You can prepare for off leash with a long line that you treat as if it’s not there. Keep the end in your hand just in case he takes off, so he’s forced to come back when he reaches the end of the leash. While the lead is loose, practice recalls. I would use food every time at first, then gradually fade the lure. If he’s not food motivated then use a toy he loves that you only use for training.
That makes sense. Let me start working on that. 👍
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
You want exercise / play time to cause the tongue hang out far. Often seen describe here as tongue hanging low.

For inside mental stimulation your already part way to nose work with find it so I'd suggest researching that and maybe getting a starter kit for true nose work.

Tongue hanging low pic

View attachment 595679
Thank you so much, I was actually wondering about this as he is often like this. For nosework I am using Tracking Dog Theory and Methods, but havent finished reading it yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I’m not an expert so I hope someone corrects me here but if a 5 month old is walking 3 hours a day.. that’s quite repetitive and probably not ideal for the joints and development? Also you should read up about socializing puppies on here.. your doing most of the correct things on your walks.. just not the try and say hi to every dog part.. no need for that, try and keep his attention on you when other dogs are around, it’ll be worth it with your end goal of off leash play.. lastly your day does seem very regimented right now, which fine if it works for you and your pup that’s great.. but if that routine every has to change for whatever reason.. you’ll have a tough adjustment period, I don’t think it would hurt to switch things up couple days a week.
Thank you so much. A lot of great ideas here. Let me see how to switch things up. I was actually wondering how to change things up so he can adapt, as in future I figured there are a lot of outdoor trips we can go on if I train him sufficiently.

Yes, I have been a bit mixed up about the socialisation part. others have also pointed out to let him meet just known friends, and the rest of the time keep him focused on me. Ive started doing this, but need to visit the socialisation discussions to learn more, 👍

Regarding the duration of walks I’ve wondered about this a lot. Initially I tried the 5 mins per month twice a day calculation, and the result was he would have a lot of pent up energy indoors. Indoors the flooring is hard and slippery, so I thought it’s not a good idea for him to run indoors even if it’s of his own volition. So then I slowly increased the duration of his walks. The 3 hours is splits across three walks. it is mostly over grass, along with some pavement and road, (mostly grass and pavement in almost equal measure, alternating as we cross various areas). During the walks he leads the way by sniffing scents he wants to follow. I only divert when there is a possible hazard etc.. So the pace is slow, I estimate the distance may be around 800m / half a mile per walk. So less than 1/2 a mile per hour pace. When we get home he has enough energy to play a little or do nose work, but it’s still easy for him to fall asleep voluntarily after meals. I honestly don’t know if this is the right quality of exercise, and am open to suggestions.
 

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Fern
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The 5 minutes per month is somewhat referring to forced exercise (taking the dog on a run). What your dog needs is free exercise.

The breeder/owner of these dogs gave permission to use these photos to show people how crucial free running is for dogs, especially growing dogs. The dogs in these photos are Borzois that she bred, young dogs.

These dogs are littermates. The black dog (left) is owned by the breeder and is able to play in a 0.5 acre of land. 3x per week her dogs are allowed to free run for 45 minutes per day. The dog on the right (red) is owned by a trusted family member in a big city that gets many walks.

Look at the body shape. Both have similar conformation but the red one severely lacks the muscle development to hold the skeleton properly. These dogs are 5 months old.
Dog Carnivore Dog breed Collar Working animal
Leg Human body Toy Fawn Wood


This next set of pictures shows the red dog's improvement with the correct amount of exercise. The breeder says the dog was provided with: "free running through a gravel pit and unlimited play". The dog looks so much better, this improvement was shown in just 4 weeks.

Dog Vertebrate Working animal Dog breed Sleeve
Extinction Fawn Art Human anatomy Skeleton


What people are saying here: 3 hour walks are not developmentally appropriate for your dog. Nor is it appropriate for the breed. The example above are sighthounds, so free running is probably the "most" important. You now know that GSDs need free exercise and incorporation of an activity that involves you (mental). Example: Throwing a ball into taller grass, then releasing the dog to find it and bring it back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I live in a 41' camper with my dogs. It's not about the size of the home. It's about what goes along with typical apartment living that make things a challenge.

The GSD is a working breed that needs physically and mental challenges to thrive. A dog designed to work needs to "work" in my opinion. Plodding along on a walk isn't challenging at all and isn't satisfying for the dog.

Flirt pole and such are great, and we only have a tiny snapshot of what life is like for your dog. I would rather see a dog run hard and work for rewards for 10 minutes than have them walk for 3 miles. At 5 months we were hiking 5 miles, off leash, while still having several other exercise/training sessions through the day. I would recommend that you avoid forced running, but other than that, your pup is tough and needs physical challenges to grow up strong.

Here's Valor at 5 months. This is a normal day for us.

Thank you so much for this, I hope I understand better now.

At present for mental challenges I am trying to do nosework / tracking, based on what I learn from “Tracking dog theory and methods”. And playing find it at home. Others have suggested structured play, which I still Need to read Up about. i Guess I could do more training. It makes sense. I’m probably more ignorant than many other dog owners, so I’m sort of reading as much as I can and applying when I learn something new. Maybe i need to make some kind of list of objectives I can aim to achieve with him.

Regarding physical exercise, I am willing to go as far as my puppy wants to go, but at present if we walk much further in a single session, he will lie down, and looks a bit tired. Perhaps my puppy doesn’t have the same stamina yet. He is about 20kgs / 45 lbs at present. if he is woken up from one of his naps mid way he seems sleepy, and even if we play he is not as energetic compared to after completing a full nap. He is gaining weight at about a pound / or half a kg per week. One thing which just occurred to me is I live in probably one of the most polluted parts of the world, where people are advised not to walk outside some times, as it may result in breathing issues and cardiovascular problems. Like a walk around the block can make the average person feel like falling asleep. Perhaps my pup is as fit as you say, but because he has to contend with breathing the pollution he tires out faster.

Let me think more about what you said, and how I can do something similar for my pup. I can include more high energy periods at the cost of some walk time, and maybe I can increase he diversity of his exercise. Thank you so much for being patient and explaining, as I’m not the quickest to understand.
 
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